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Om Electing Cromwell
Popular interest in Cromwell has often exceeded the originality of what has been written about him. Barclay's study comes out of meticulous research on a huge range of newly discovered primary sources, transforming our understanding of the life and career of Oliver Cromwell during the period from his birth in 1599 until 1642. Barclay offers important new interpretations of such episodes as Cromwell's election as MP for Cambridge in 1640 to both the Short and Long Parliaments; his possible attendance and preaching at a fenland conventicle during the 1630s; and his controversial involvement in the politics surrounding plans for fen drainage. He arrives at conclusions which provoke fresh ways of looking at Cromwell, Cromwellian historiography and the national mood in 1640. Whilst this is undoubtedly a study of Cromwell's life, it is by no means simply a biography. Barclay's research is an exercise in historical revisionism; his study challenges preconceptions about Cromwell's political life by reconstructing and analysing the lives of many of those around him as a way of shedding light on the central individual. The wide-ranging nature of this scholarly approach means that the book engages with the political, religious, urban and economic issues of the time.